HC Deb 04 November 1980 vol 991 cc1086-7
8. Mr. Greville Janner

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many men and how many women are registered as unemployed in the city of Leicester.

Mr. Jim Lester

At 9 October, the provisional numbers of males and females registered as unemployed in the Leicester employment office area were 11,574 and 5,198 respectively.

Mr. Janner

Although the energy, initiative and ingenuity of Leicester people have kept the level of unemployment below the disaster level which exists in some other areas, is the Minister aware that they are experiencing the highest unemployment level since the 1930s and that about 18,000 people are desperate for work in that area? Is he aware that most of them come from traditional industries such as the knitwear, footwear, hosiery and engineering industries which represent a roll call of doom? What is the Minister prepared to do to help?

Mr. Lester

Many such people faced a similar future under the hon. and learned Gentleman's Government. It is not a question simply of Government assistance. Up to August 1980, £1.6 million in assistance was given to 99 projects in the knitwear industry. A further £2.5 million was given to selective investment schemes and £3.3 million is earmarked for 1980–81 under the urban programme. It is a question not of the Government failing to finance and support but of what the industry is able to do to improve design and create the products that many people buy from other countries.

Mr. Farr

Is my hon. Friend aware that many of the traditional industries which are efficient are being hit by low-priced imports from countries such as the United States of America? Will he examine an application for such imports to be regulated on a fair basis?

Mr. Lester

The Secretary of State for Trade constantly examines cases of unfair competition and dumping. I understand that the EEC has approval to suspend 27 cases of low-cost imports through member States. That question has been raised before in relation to the textile industry. Of course we shall do anything to prevent unfair competition and cheating which damage our industry.

Mr. Jim Marshall

Will the Minister and his colleagues stop shedding crocodile tears for the unemployed in Leicester and elsewhere in the United Kingdom? Will they make it clear to the unemployed in Leicester that unemployment and the threat of unemployment is a deliberate instrument of the Government's economic policy? Does he agree that the only hope for the unemployed of Leicester and of the United Kingdom as a whole is either the early demise of the Tory Government or a radical change in their economic policies?

Mr. Lester

I assume that the Government in whom the hon. Gentleman served had the same policy since they doubled the rate of unemployment when they were in power.

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